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Chapter 32: The Empire’s Worst Psychopath (5)

“Found it, finally!”

Lucy, an apprentice knight of the empire, felt like she could burst into cheers right there and then.

It seemed only natural. Today, she had finally discovered the location of the black market.

For someone as ordinary as her, not only was it a challenge to obtain an entrance ticket, but even discovering the venue was nearly impossible.

Moreover, as an apprentice knight, she was obliged to assist with various menial tasks.

Finding time to gather information was extremely difficult.

However, Lucy had ultimately succeeded. Although her family had fallen from grace, she had managed to use her noble status to monitor the movements of the magic train passengers.

She couldn’t just take leave whenever she wanted, so she couldn’t arrive on time.

But knowing was what mattered.

After being bossed around by her seniors all day, she rushed straight to the magic train.

“Stop right there! Drop your weapon and surrender!”

“Me?”

Her shabby attire had led to misunderstandings; she was mistaken for a commoner and subjected to questioning.

Even after proving her identity, she faced remarks like, ‘Valierre? Oh, that family? I didn’t know anyone from there was still alive,’ which made her face turn red,

And complaints about a commoner hiding aboard led to a major disturbance inside the train, accusing her of terrorism.

There were various incidents like these...

‘But, but reaching here is what counts!’

Lucy quickly composed herself.

What if things got a bit rough?

Ever since her family’s downfall, frustration had always clung to her life.

But that didn’t mean she could always remain resigned and gloomy.

Positive thinking was most crucial.

Thus, Lucy, looking at the magically concealed entrance to the black market, allowed herself a slight smile.

Her reason for doing this was simple.

She might be too embarrassed to tell others, but... it was to punish the wicked and bring justice to the world.

The black market was a den of vile dealings.

Slave trading was just the beginning; it was a true den of evil with all sorts of horrendous crimes unfolding.

She couldn’t just stand by and watch.

‘Because I’ve decided to become like him!’

When her family had been engulfed in calamity, a hero had saved her. To become like that hero, Lucy had resolved to become a knight.

Therefore, she must save people and do good like that hero...

[Heroes don’t exist in this world.]

Suddenly, a whispering voice in her ear.

She stood dazed for a moment, then remembered one thing.

Come to think of it, a hero does not exist in this world.

The man with black hair.

Ian, the name he used when he supposedly saved her from disaster 11 years ago, was a hero that didn’t exist.

Why had she been harboring such a foolish delusion?

Creating a nonexistent person out of thin air. Perhaps the stress had gotten too severe lately.

“...Huh? Then how did I survive back then?”

[That’s not important.]

She thought about it for a moment. It really wasn’t important.

Given her failure to remember, it surely wasn’t significant. Dwelling on it would just be a waste of time.

What mattered was that she had to do something about the black market where these atrocities were happening.

For some reason, she felt compelled to act, as if it were her life’s purpose.

She swallowed hard and, keeping her tension, slowly headed towards the entrance.

She had thoroughly researched the black market.

So, she was well aware of its stringent security system. She would likely have to breach heavy security.

‘Can I really do this?’

It was natural to have such doubts.

She was fairly confident in her swordsmanship.

Among the apprentice knights, none could match her.

Moreover, she had a special ability that she kept secret from everyone. Eyes that saw what should not be visible.

The psychic eyes that could perceive the essence of souls.

A power inherited from her parents.

But still... this was the infamous black market.

Operated by that Archmage.

No matter how confident she was in her skills, she wasn’t a match for an Archmage.

Thus, entry must be absolutely secretive.

She had to be extremely careful not to attract the guards’ attention. The moment they reported her, it would be over.

She nervously ripped a scroll engraved with an invisibility spell.

A month’s salary vanished in an instant, and it felt like her heart was torn apart as well.

But there was no time to hesitate. The duration of such a cheap scroll wasn’t long.

Thus, Lucy hurried towards the hidden entrance of the black market when...

“Uh...?”

She let out a dumbfounded noise.

It was to be expected. Her body was, by no means, invisible.

Lucy quickly realized the situation.

- The Lady looked so kind, She gave me a special half-price discount.

...She had been scammed.

She’d fallen for a fake scroll.

She had felt something was off, but the promise of a half-price deal had completely fooled her.

In an instant, Lucy’s face turned pale.

The current situation.

She could roughly predict what was about to happen.

Could she really die from something like this?

Was the Archmage about to come personally and kill the intruder?

She shouldn’t have fallen for such words, thinking she should have bought the scroll from a more expensive but verified store filled her mind.

But it was too late for regrets.

Sure enough, it wasn’t long before men with grim expressions were pointing their swords at her, shouting, ‘Intruder!’

She was supposed to have lost her life there, and thus the Valierre bloodline was supposed to end.

...But that didn’t happen.

“...?”

Lucy looked around in confusion.

Despite having brazenly sprinted towards the entrance, there was no one trying to stop her.

What’s going on?

Isn’t this the entrance to the black market?

It seemed like just an ordinary wall, but it was supposed to lead to the black market, right?

Why was there no one guarding it?

She couldn’t make sense of the situation.

She had thought she was invisible due to a transparency spell, but apparently not.

Why was security so lax? She couldn’t figure out why, but she couldn’t just stand there doing nothing.

Eventually, Lucy gathered her courage and entered the black market.

The scene changed instantly.

The streets of the black market, hidden by illusion magic, unfolded before her.

Grotesque items were openly displayed. The sights were horrific enough to make her feel nauseous.

But more than the grim scenery, something else perplexed her.

‘Why is there no one here?’

It was strange.

Very strange.

No matter how much she looked around, there wasn’t a soul in sight.

The streets of the black market were eerily silent.

‘What on earth is this?’

Moreover, upon closer inspection, the place was covered in blood. It was impossible to tell how many had died here.

Signs of explosions,

Iron bars of cages that seemed to have been used to confine slaves were unnaturally bent,

Shops left unattended as if someone had hastily fled, only taking the valuables.

The more she looked, the more questions arose. She couldn’t even begin to guess what had happened here.

The only thing she could be certain of was a dreadful premonition.

Lucy’s hands and feet began to tremble.

She had resolved to devote herself to justice, but that was a separate matter from being terrified.

On nights when her playful father told ghost stories, she could never sleep.

She detested this kind of atmosphere.

In these desolate streets, it felt as if everyone else in the world had vanished except for her.

Lucy shivered as she surveyed her surroundings.

As anyone would do.

She desperately needed someone to talk to.

In this type of fear, it was crucial to stick with others.

Fear lessens the more it is shared.

Desperately, she roamed the streets shouting, ‘Is there anyone there? Can someone please respond?’

And then... perhaps it was divine intervention.

Before long, she spotted a person dressed in a black robe.

A smile naturally spread across Lucy’s face. Never before had she been so glad to see another person.

In this situation, Lucy knew what she had to do.

She quickly ran towards the person.

...Or, she tried to run.

Something felt off.

Her eyes went rogue, uncontrollably revealing the true nature of the person in front of her with a painful throbbing.

“...Ah.”

Her head spun.

Her legs gave way, and she helplessly collapsed to the ground.

Lucy realized naturally.

She understood the cause of all these anomalies.

It seemed only natural.

She felt something incredibly sacred yet holy, but above all, terrifying and ominous.

She saw something that was incomprehensible and should not be comprehended.

...The figure standing before her was not a person, but a monster.

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